East Coast Fall: Washington DC and New Jersey

A little – or a lot – behind on this post.  Last month saw us journeying to the east coast to enjoy some fall weather and colors.  The main impetus for this though was a professional convention we attend annually, well for at least the last 10 years or so.  Craig gets to attend seminars, lectures and keynote talks all day and Jennifer gets to tour around Washington DC. Over the years we have met and made some good friends who we meet up with for the week.  Jennifer is with a small group who all enjoy seeing the museums, monuments and culture of the city.  Then we all meet up in the evening for the social events.  This year we took advantage of being on the east coast and combined a trip up to New Jersey to spend a weekend with our son and daughter-in-law. IMG_4664

Not much to say about Craig’s time in DC other than he spent a week listening to a broad range of discussions and topics about his work.  Jennifer, on the other hand, crossed off more places on her DC bucket list and lunched at some fun and historic restaurants.  They walked the National Mall, enjoyed the Botanical Gardens, and saw the Vice-President’s motorcade while walking near the White House. They spent a morning at one of their favorite places, the National Zoo, ran across Lafayette Square and ate lunch at fun places like Capital Grill and Ebbits Grill.  This year was more about staying outside as the weather was beautiful and they had all seen the “sights” in years’ past.  Most evenings were spent with all of us just hanging in the hotel lounge enjoying each other’s company.

After a week in DC, it was time to “get out of Dodge” and we drove up the I-95 corridor to NJ.  We left mid-day from DC and it really was not too bad of a drive.  The traffic was moving at full speed, roads were not full, and the leaves were turning, especially on the parkways.  Fortunately, we have an EZPass, and that makes the tollways much more manageable and affordable.  It cost about $20 in tolls one way.  As usual, the NJ couple found us some great restaurants to eat at including a tapas place and a local taco joint.

Saturday saw us revisiting Thomas Edison’s lab in West Orange.  This time it was open J  It really was fascinating.  Amazing to think of all the brain power, innovation, craftsmanship and inventions that came out of this place.  While he is most famous for the light bulb, Edison also invented the phonograph, moving pictures, electrical generation and distribution infrastructure, and concrete.  Like today’s technology, he needed power, especially ways to store it.  His innovations in battery power storage catapulted him ahead of his peers much like the miniature lithium batteries of today have enabled all our small hand-held electronics.  His laboratory was not just a place of inventions, it was also a fully equipped and functioning machine and fabrication shop and chemical lab.  Edison’s version of electricity was Direct Current (DC), it was Tesla who advocated for the safer Alternating Current (AC) which we all use in our homes today.  Ironically, there were Tesla charging stations in the National Park parking lot.

We also took a side trip to his house, Glenmont, in Llewellyn Park.  Glenmont has over 29 rooms and 8 bathrooms.  The Edison’s added a bathroom to every bedroom.   It includes over 157,000 bricks, and in excess of 10,000 pounds of iron and steel framing. There are 23 fireplaces exiting through seven chimneys. A total of 94 exterior windows.  It was originally built by a department store secretary, Henry Pedder who was embezzling funds.  He was eventually caught, and the house was handed over to the authorities as payment of the debt.  Edison bought it for his new wife, Mina, in 1886 and they make it their life-long home.  It is magnificent and as would be expected, was outfitted with all the most modern conveniences.

What trip would be complete without a visit to a winery.  This time we stopped at America’s oldest winery, Brotherhood, in Washingtonville, NY.  We also enjoyed the fall colors during the drive up.  It was a wonderful afternoon!  Yes, we did have plenty of samples to taste, and yes, we did bring back a few bottles for our enjoyment.

The weather was a little less than cooperative on our last day there, so we stayed in and played cards, ate some warm home-made soup, drink our wine from the day before and told stories.  It was really nice to just hang out and catch up.  When all your kids live a full day’s flight away, it is always nice to just spend some time with each other.

In all, it was a great trip to the east coast.  Perfect time of year, not too cold, not too hot, no rain or snow or wind and good friends and family.

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